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Montague PHILLIPS (1885-1969)
Piano Concerto No.1 in F sharp minor (1907) [31:54]
Piano Concerto No.2 in E major, Op.32 (1919) [28:42]
Victor HELY-HUTCHINSON (1901-1947)
The Young Idea: rhapsody for piano & orchestra (1928) [8:07]
David Owen Norris (piano)
BBC Concert Orchestra/Gavin Sutherland
rec. The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford, 14-15 January 2008. DDD
World premiere recordings
Experience Classicsonline

Phillips is known in the field of British light music but rather like Haydn Wood he had occasional excursions into the concert hall. Here are two of them.

The Second Piano Concerto has been broadcast by the BBC in various studio performances; not that there have been many of these. The First Piano Concerto is a total unknown. 

The two concertos would not have been out of place in Hyperion's ‘Romantic Piano Concertos’ series. Neither for that matter would Dutton's recordings of the Bowen piano concertos and as if to prove the point Hyperion's recordings of the second Bowen and his monumental third piano concerto will be released later in 2008. Roll on a project to record the allegedly Rachmaninovian piano concertos of Roger Sacheverell Coke. There are six to choose from. At one stage in the 1930s and 1940s they were getting regional concert exposure and broadcasts. After that someone needs to look over Gaze Cooper's piano concertos. 

As for the present works for piano and orchestra, Phillips' First Piano Concerto would sit comfortably alongside the Tchaikovsky First and Concert Fantasy, the First Rachmaninov and the two Glazunovs. The outer movements are agreeably rhetorical-heroic with the central movement being touchingly reflective and delicately pointed. The finale carries the grand manner high with a dash of pomp. 

The Second Concerto, from twelve years and a world war later, is more original and with a slightly more tangy harmonic edge. The music is still high on rhetoric with good ideas not in short supply. Some stock romantic gestures will be recognised but there is plenty to engage the attention and the heart. Phillips' writing in this work sometimes recalls the Bliss Piano Concerto. The second movement is more relaxed but still has a lean energetic charge (2:43 onwards). The finale has a mariner's swagger and something of Elgar's sweeping nobilmente but with more of a surrender to sentimentality (1:33) and a redolence of Harty's Piano Concerto. 

Hely-Hutchinson's The Young Idea is a fun piece with a zany music-hall accent. There are glittering cross-currents from ragtime, West End shows, Satie and Walton's Façade. 

These are the works' first commercial recordings. 

Phillips has already had two previous Dutton CDs: CDLX7140 including the Sinfonietta and Surrey Suite and CDLX7158 the Empire March and the Phantasy for violin and orchestra. 

Performances crackling with all the brio and energy of a live event and brought to the retailer with breathtaking speed.

Rob Barnett



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